News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Free trees, shrubs available for wildfire survivors

Contributing writer for The Canyon Weekly

By Mary Owen

For the second year, approximately 30,000 native trees and shrubs will be given away to Santiam Canyon residents of properties impacted by 2020’s Beachie Creek and Lionshead wildfires.

“For the residents I’ve talked to and the ones posting on Facebook, this event allows them to take charge of the devastation they still see on many of the properties in the Canyon,” said Kevin Dial with Santiam Recovery. “Planting trees, shrubs and bushes also helps survivors bring back a little normal. New trees, new life, hope for a better future. 

“Planting a tree is literally planting a seed of success for the future,” Dial continued.

The give-away will take place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday at Mari-Linn School in Lyons. Recipients will need to provide their name, planting address and contact information for grant reporting purposes. Pick up is on those days only and no plants will be held.

The event “boosts the morale of the survivors,” said Melissa Baurer, with disaster services and community engagement for Santiam Service Integration. “At a time right now when many survivors are struggling with emotions, this event brings hope. It’s a difficult time. It’s 17 months later, we have shorter days, some survivors are feeling forgotten. Planting trees, shrubs, other plants is something survivors can do. It provides hope. 

“Our team is looking forward to volunteering, giving us an opportunity to see survivors outside of the office and see how this event will light up so many,” Baurer added.

An Elkhorn resident and his family lost their home and shop to the wildfires. 

“It was the third night, around 9 p.m., when we got photo confirmation our home was gone,” he reported on his Kirk Kabin Rebuild Facebook page. “My shop was gone. Neighbor’s place was gone. Neighborhood as a whole was gone.”

Grateful for last year’s give-away, he said, “It was the first time we saw a lot of neighbors and community members since the fire, and it was a time to catch-up, share our story, and get a plethora of trees and shrubs. The Watershed has been a constant support to the Canyon since literally days after the fire. Be sure to share with others that were effected by the fires who need to replant or want to volunteer!”

The North Santiam Watershed Council, Marion Soil and Water Conservation and Santiam Recovery are overseeing the event. Organizers thanked the Arbor Day Foundation and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation for providing the plant material.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, trees and shrubs can add value to a home, help cool the home and neighborhood, break the cold winds to help lower heating costs, and provide food for wildlife. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the net cooling affect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Trees properly place around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent, according to the USDA Forest Service.

Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value, the Forest Service added. 

In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees produces significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension, according to a Texas A&M University study.

The Arbor Day Foundation will send 10 free trees to members who can choose from a variety of packages. For more information, visit www.arborday.org.

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